Kansas Jayhawks pull off historic, meaningful win for head coach Bill Self


The Sunflower Showdown is usually an exciting matchup when it takes place in Manhattan, Kansas. It’s the game K-State players and their fans circle every year, and the one they show up for the most.

It’s not untrue to say this game typically means more to the Wildcats than it does KU – but not today.

Today’s game held a special meaning because it was the first game following the passing of Kansas head coach Bill Self’s mentor and hero, his father Bill Self Sr.

Self openly talked about what an impact his dad had on his life, particularly his coaching career. During his Hall of Fame Induction speech in 2017, he shared some advice that his dad gave him, which was, “Son, don’t worry about the mules, just load the wagon.”

The saying means don’t worry about the things you can’t control, just do your best and good things will happen.

But good things were not happening for KU in the first half of Saturday’s game.

The Jayhawks were giving up 1.45 points per possession and the Wildcats – particularly sophomore Nigel Pack, who scored 22 first-half points – were making seemingly every shot they put up. Pack finished the game with a career-high 35 points.

The Jayhawks were able to overcome the 16-point halftime deficit though thanks to some stellar defense, outstanding offensive rebounding, and more late-game heroics by their future All-American Ochai Agbaji, who scored the game-winning layup with nine seconds remaining.

The victory proved to be a historic one as KU overcame their biggest halftime deficit (16 points) and biggest road deficit (17 points) for a win in school history.

For Self, the game went exactly as his father would have wanted it to go.

"“To win this one like that was something extra because the way we won it was exactly the way that he lived – grind it out and make the most of every situation, even when it doesn’t look good,” Self said in his postgame press conference."

Although it didn’t always look promising, this team refused to lose this game. They refused to let their head coach down in a moment where he needed lifting up.

They demonstrated everything that Bill Self Sr. stood for and everything his son (their coach) values in his players – toughness, determination, and heart.

But most importantly, they demonstrated the true meaning of family.